Goodbye Pyramid, Hello Plate!

by inspiredrd on June 2, 2011

The USDA kicked the outdated food pyramid to the curb today and replaced it with a new symbol, a plate.  Michelle Obama along with the Secretary of Agriculture and Surgeon General revealed the new food icon this morning in Washington D.C.  Designed to be a simpler representation of what healthy eating should look like, MyPlate is supposed to remind Americans to eat healthier more balanced meals.
Most dietitians that I spoke with today were excited that the new food icon represents what many dietitians have been doing for years, showing clients what a balanced meal on a plate looks like.  Everyone agreed that MyPlate is an improvement over the food pyramid, especially the most recent one pictured to the right.   
Questions remain though, such as where does exercise fit in and what about excess sugars and sweets?
My biggest question: Does anyone outside of the nutrition world care about this?
My concern is always about the practical application of nutrition information, so I went straight to Twitter and Facebook to ask that question.  
Some people said that MyPlate is too oversimplified, 
while others touted the value of simplicity.

Whatever you think of the new food icon, it is clear that education must accompany the picture.  Parents and children need to be educated about what a serving of “protein” looks like and how to include whole grains.  Basic cooking skills need to be taught at all ages, along with how to shop for healthy foods at the grocery store.  Without further education, MyPlate is just a pretty picture. 
MyPlate also brings back up the troubling issue of food deserts.  How do families who live nowhere near a grocery store selling fruits and vegetables follow these guidelines?  If the government is going to tell people to fill half of their plate with fresh produce, will they also be making sure that fruits and vegetables are available to these urban areas?
There are many positives and negatives that come out of an announcement like the new MyPlate, but to keep it simple, I think that the plate is an improvement over the pyramid.  To find our more about MyPlate, visit ChooseMyPlate.gov.
What do you think?  Do you like the new food icon?  Do you think it will make a difference?  Do you like the simplicity or do you think it’s too simple?  Chime in with your thoughts! 
Thanks to Janet Helm for organizing this list of blogs written by RDs about the new MyPlate:

  • Eileen Short

    I think it's an improvement over the pyramids. :)

  • Chelsea

    I like it. I think it is much better than the pyramid, and it's an easy visual. You are absolutely right that education and information needs to follow it up, but you can't include it all on what is supposed to be a simple visual representation/reminder. It serves it's purpose.

  • Lauren

    blogged about this too, I'm underwhelmed. This will do nothing. Plate makes sense but will not help. Come see what I said, we agreed on some of it… Love you asking if those outside of nutrition even care!

  • Lisa @ Healthful Sense

    Yes! I totally agree with you on this (as Lauren mentioned in the previous comment):
    "My biggest question: Does anyone outside of the nutrition world care about this?"

    My biggest problems with the plate are the dairy section, the protein section, and the grains section.

    It doesn't clarify what types of grains to choose. It doesn't specify healthy protein choices. And why does dairy have to be a category at all?

    I mentioned on Lauren's blog that you can fit a fast food hamburger (grains + protein), fries (vegetable), ketchup (fruit), and chocolate milk (dairy) into each section of the plate. They do that type of thing for school lunches as well. Ketchup or a donut fortified with vitamin C to replace fruit.

    It seems that the "plate" has similar issues to the "pyramid"

    Anywho, that's my 2 cents.

    Thanks for asking that question though. I think that is what is most important… do people outside of the nutrition world actually care?

  • Becca @ Our Crazy Boys

    I think it's easier to explain to my kids with the plate. And I like how it has a place for grains instead of starch – I honestly never noticed that with the pyramid.

  • HikerRD

    I've got a lot to say about My Plate that hasn't been said before!
    http://dropitandeat.blogspot.com/2011/06/time-to-clear-my-plate-before-you-get.html

  • http://www.zephyrruns.wordpress.com/ Katherina @ Zephyr Runs

    I like the plate – but I agree about it being TOO simple. I had to research for entirely too long (not an obscene amount of time, but it should have been a quick find!) to find out the exact proportions they are saying we should have.

    Dairy shouldn’t have even been included, bah. Especially when the website gives pudding as a dairy example. If you go to the website and click on the portion it gives you examples of each category, which is cool. Except for the pudding.

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